A string of words put together have the power to drive a nation, to bring change and to cause a river of unstoppable emotions. That is the power of a well-crafted speech, especially one delivered from the heart. Throughout the ongoing Gaza genocide, people living oceans away not only felt an ache for the Palestinian people but also a numbing helplessness for not knowing how to aid. That is what drove them to hit up the streets to protest and speak up for Palestine. Since October 7 and even before that, figures from around the globe have taken up the mic to send out a clear message to the masses, here are just a few of them.
Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon known for timeless classics like “Thelma & Louise” was always known as a badass humanitarian who fights for social and human rights. That is why it comes as no surprise when she took to the streets to join a massive pro-Palestinian protest in New York.
Taking the mic, Sarandon said what many would shy away from saying, “I stand here in my cruelly given white privilege to say that you don’t have to be Palestinian to stand with the Palestinian people.” A wave of applause rippled through the crowd as the actress listed all the injustices faced in Gaza along with highlighting the biggest propagator of the injustice, a lack of education.
Following 10 months of intense recovery, seven-time Glory Kickboxing Dutch champion Rico Verhoeven returned to the boxing rink. Along with his major comeback, the champion slayed it on the rink by defeating his opponent Tariq ‘Cookie’ Osaro and earning his eleventh title defense. Making even more waves, following his victory, he took it upon himself to speak up about the Palestinian cause.
In his exact words, the athlete said “Let’s take one second before we celebrate… to talk about the Gaza situation and just hope and pray for unity and peace in the world.” It was beautiful seeing the athlete bring to attention the ongoings of Gaza before celebrating his major win.
Political activist and American philosopher Cornel West is a man who constantly strives for justice. Through his ideologies, he authored a wealth of books all about social and racial justice including “Race Matters.” His expertise and wealth of knowledge saw him appearing on several programs including The Bill Maher Show and CNN. Today, his attention is directed towards the atrocities faced by the Gazans.
Gathered outside the UN building in NYC was a massive protest that saw West take the mic in a speech that truly spoke from his heart, “10,000 dead and 4000 precious children and doesn’t let anybody tell you that because you love Palestinians and Palestinian babies that you hate somebody else, we don’t hate Jewish brothers and sisters… we loathe, we hate a vicious Israeli occupation.” His voice echoed through the crowd with an intensity and vigor fueled by the Palestinian tragedy.
Known for his major hit “Thrift Shop”, rapper and musician Macklemore has always been known to come up with songs packed with powerful messages. With him already being a musical wordsmith who lays his heart out in his major rap hits, it comes as no surprise seeing the artist voice his concern over Palestine during an impromptu speech at a Pro-Palestine Rally in D.C.
In his exact words, he brought to light how he was explicitly asked to be silent, “They told me to be quiet. They told me to do my research, to go back, that it’s too complex to say something, right? To be silent in this moment. In the last three weeks, I’ve gone back and I’ve done some research. And I am teachable. I don’t know enough. But I know enough that this is a genocide.” His breaking the silence will hopefully act as an example for other major figures to follow in tow.
Back in 2018, young Swedish activist Greta Thunburg shot to fame after organizing school walkouts to protest inaction on climate change. Bold and unafraid, Thunburg faced everything from getting detained by police to being found guilty for disobeying police orders. Today she is known as a global climate leader who is credited for raising awareness on climate change. She also advocates for social injustice and has made it clear on social media her avid pro-Palestinian stance.
During a climate protest held in Amsterdam, Greta spoke up about Palestine, saying that “The people in power have not been listening” and before she could even continue her evocative speech, a man grabbed her mic and started speaking into it and saying “I have come here for a climate demonstration not a political view.” This goes to show how many people still do not want to speak up about the Palestinian cause. It is all the more reason for public figures like Thunberg to continue to speak up.
With Palestinian roots, Mohamed Amer came all the way to America, channeling his comedic and acting chops to bring his story to the screen. He released ‘Mo’ where he plays a Palestinian-American Muslim born in Kuwait, who fled with his family to the US during the first Gulf War in the early 90s. Beyond showcasing the Palestinian identity through a fictional platform, Amer also took to the streets at a rally in Washington D.C., to speak up for his homeland.
Instilling hope, Amer’s voice cracked as he vocalized the pain he feels towards the tragedy, “Seeing everything that is happening, is just making my heart bleed… I care about seeing not one more soul taken from this land… and we must have some compassion. Where is the humanity?” The entire speech felt like a heartfelt plea to the entire world to fight back and to speak up and it was beautifully delivered.
Each of these public figures demonstrated bravery when stepping up to take the mic as their words spewed out in fury. Knowing how much each speech circulated across social media shows how much it is important to speak up for the cause.
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